Study Summary and Analysis: Effects of Electromagnetic Radiation from a Cellular Phone on Human Sperm Motility

Study summary and analysis written by Ann E. Laubscher, M.A.

This post is a summary and analysis of an independent scientific study titled “Effects of Electromagnetic Radiation from a Cellular Phone on Human Sperm Motility: An In Vitro Study“.

The potential adverse health effects of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) has created concern for cell phone users. While commercially available cell phones adhere to guidelines limiting EMR exposure levels, research evidence indicates that concerns are warranted, particularly with regard to reproductive health. One possible effect of EMR exposure relates to motility strength of spermatozoa, the ability of sperm to move successfully toward a goal.

Many studies support the theory that cell phone use is detrimental to fertilization potential for a variety of reasons. Kilgallon, et al found that men who carry cellphones close to their testes have a lower sperm concentration with fewer motile sperm. One in vivo study conducted by Fejes, et al on more than 350 healthy males, correlated prolonged cell phone exposure to reduced sperm motility.

This study delved further into the effects of cell phone exposure on sperm motility using an in vitro design. After excluding male volunteers with existing abnormal conditions such as infections, 27 healthy males donated semen samples at a urology clinic. Samples were collected under controlled conditions to eliminate variation. They were then kept at room temperature for 25 minutes before each sample was divided in half: half of each semen sample became a control group sample, and half was exposed to EMR. The EMR exposure room involved placing the specimen at a distance of 10 cm from the EMR source, a commercially available cell phone for 5 minutes. After the 5 minutes, the control sample and the exposure sample were examined and then double checked concurrently by trained observers.

Significant results were obtained in three of four categories of sperm motility. “Rapid progressive” and “slow progressive” motility categories mean that sperm was moving in a linear pattern at either a rapid or slow speed. “In nonprogressive motility” means the sperm move in a circular pattern that is not conducive to progress toward fertilization. “No motility” means that the sperm is not moving. There were significant differences found in rapid progressive, slow progressive, and no-motility categories between control and experimental conditions. There were not significant differences in the percentage of nonprogressive motility between the two groups. The control group also showed a higher percentage of subjects with rapid and slow progressive categories than the ERM exposure group. The EMR group had more subjects with nonprogressive and no-motility categories.

The results of this study support the theory that EMR exposure has a detrimental effect on sperm motility. Compared to control samples from the same sample specimen, EMR exposed sperm were less motile than their control counterparts. Changes were statistically significant, and the robustness of the study warrant serious consideration for those concerned over the viability of sperm under the influence of cell phone electromagnetic radiation.

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